On the day the Confederate Flag was removed from the South Carolina capitol building, I took an afternoon stroll through our local Union Cemetery. While on my stroll, I struck up a conversation with some of our departed Union warriors. I had heard them harmonizing praises to "the Lord" and shouting "hallelujah," the truth has prevailed.
As I approached the long-departed veterans, I introduced myself to Frank, a veteran of the 1st Battle of Bull Run, who served with the 2nd Regiment of Rhode Island; to "Limping Joe," who had fought with the 24th Michigan and been struck down at McPherson's Woods during the Battle of Gettysburg and to "One-Eye" Tommy, who was a rather short fellow who had fought with the Army of the Tennessee, under Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman, and survived the Siege of Vicksburg, and the war itself, only to die by being thrown from a horse. Finally, Sgt. Mike, who fought in the 8th Battery, Massachusetts Volunteer, Light Artillery joined us after a spell.
It was a good day for a stroll, by DC standards; it was a low humidity day. The fellas who by now are rather used to the weather at our Union Cemetery were not complaining. Frank asked me my name and then inquired as to whether the news that the South Carolina legislature had voted to bring down the Confederate Flag was really true. After all, they had started singing hallelujahs before. I told him this time it was going to hold, at least in South Carolina. More hallelujahs from my new found friends.
"Limping Joe" chimed in: What took so long? We have suffered long and dearly these dreadful decades for some reckoning from up above. Shame though, it took a disgraceful act at a Church to turn the tide. Really, had the nation truly forgotten who won the Civil War? That flag -- and no disrespect to the Confederate dead -- is a piece of no good cloth. And if to the victor belongs the spoils of war, how in damnation did it get to fly for so long? "One-Eye" Tommy retorted: it was because them there politicians in Washington screwed things up real well with all that Reconstruction Era stuff. The rebs didn't take kindly to this and managed to get the last word in.
Makes absolutely no sense, said Frank. It was disrespectful and offensive to us and we died to preserve the Union. Them there rebs fought for their own cause. They lost and that should have been the end of them and their darn "Stars and Bars."
You see any Confederate souls in this here "Hollow Ground"? protested "One-Eye" Tommy. Sgt. Mike spoke up and reminded them that their battle was long over. The preservation of the Union was now in the hands of the living, as it always had been. With that they all went back to "Praising the Lord" and singing sweet "Hallelujahs" for this has been a glorious day indeed.
I left my buddies behind and thanked them once again for their service on behalf of a noble cause and a worthy nation. I was struck by Sgt. Mike's reminder that to the living remains the task of preserving the Union. And, I am grateful that South Carolina has on this day set the example.
David Rivera, Esq.